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Houston Astros cheating probe widens to almost 60 witnesses, 76,000 emails

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Major League Baseball has interviewed almost 60 people and obtained tens of thousands of electronic messages in its investigation into allegations the broke rules by using a television camera to steal signs.

Former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers sparked the investigation when he told the Athletic last month the Astros had used the camera to steal signs in 2017 during the team’s run to its first World Series title.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month MLB was investigating Houston’s conduct for the past three seasons, and he hoped to complete the inquiry before the start of next season.

“I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the commissioner’s office has ever undertaken,” he said Wednesday at the winter meetings. “I think we’ve interviewed already nearly 60 witnesses, 76,000 e-mails, a whole additional trove of instant messages.

“That review has caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing. It is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible, but it’s really hard to predict how long something like that is going to take.”

Astros manager AJ Hinch and Boston manager Alex Cora, the Astros’ 2017 bench coach, said they had spoken with investigators, and Hinch said he had been involved in several sessions. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, a Houston player in 2017, refused to say whether he had been interviewed.

“At this point in the investigatArsenal’s head of football Raul Sanllehi says the club have enough “ammunition” to secure transfer targets this summer.The Gunners will lose Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck and Petr Cech after letting their contracts expire.But Sanllehi is confident thion it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate about what types of discipline might be in play,” Manfred said. “I’m going to get all the facts in front of me and make a decision as promptly as possible on discipline.”

MLB strengthened its rules against electronic sign stealing before the 2019 season, and Manfred said the rules are reviewed eacise on teammate Raheem Sterling.Sterling, insists Delph, now belongs at the top tier of today’s stars.“I joined City with Raheem, so for me to see Raheem’s ­development as debut in Major League Soccer.He was playing for FC Cincinnati for the first time since joining the club temporarily in the January transfer window.Locadia netted in the 71st minute, only seven minutes after he came off the bench for Cincinnati.His nd to push him, to be that voice in his ear, I still felt very much part of ih offseason to determine whether more alterations are warranted.

Charles Rogers, second overall pick in 2003 NFL draft, dies aged 38

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Charles Rogers, the wide receiver chosen second in the 2003 NFL draft after a prolific career at Michigan State University, has died aged 38.

The Detroit Free Press after a number of his former teammates on social media.

No cause of death has been reported, but several of his former coaches said .

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charles Rogers,” the Lions said rsenal manager Unai Emery has admitted that losing the Europa League final is a blow for his team.The Gunners were routed 4-1 by Chelsea in a game where they never looked competitive.It means they will be unable to qualify for the UEFA Champions Leagin a statement Monday. “From Saginaw, to East Lansing, to Detroit, Charles’ connection to the state of Michigan and its football community was felt by many during the course of his life. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his friends and family during this difficult time.”

Rogers set a school record with 27 career touchdowns that still stands at Michigan State despite playing only two seasons at the Lansing school, winning the Fred Biletnikoff award as the best college wide receiver in the nation during his junior season.

The 6ft 3in, 220lb star was chosen with the No 2 pick in the 2003 draft behind only Carson Palmer and almost immediately made good on his $9.1m signing bonus with the Lions, catching 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in his first five professional games, but his rookie year was abruptly cut short when he broke his collarbone during a speed drill.

Rogers broke his collarbone again on the third play of the 2004 campaign, ending his second season. By the end of year three, he was out of football entirely, finishing with 36 receptions for 440 yards and three touchdowns in 15 appearances.

The Saginaw native was arrested at least six times from 2008-12 on charges ranging from assault and battery and probation violations to DUI, open container violations and marijuana possession.

In 2017, Rogers that he became addicted to Vicodin during his time with the Lions. He also said he smoked marijuana throughout his time in college and the pros.

“I am getting my life together. … A fresh start,” he said in that interview. “Do I need a little love? Yeah. Am I still trying to find Charles Rogers? Yeah. I stay optimistic and positive. I’ve been to hell and back, but I stay strong. I still have faith. I’m still a young man. It ain’t over. I’m going to be all right, you know? I’m going to be all right.”

Donham boss Harry Redknapp believes Paul Pogba could yet stay with Manchester United.Pogba continues to be linked with Real Madrid and Juventus.But Redknapp told Sky Sports, “I wouldn’t think they’ll take a loss – I think he is a great footballer.”Maybn Durrett, who coached Rodgers at Saginaw High School, told the Free Press he was the best athlete he’d any seen across spo confirmed the club is under an English Football League transfer embargo due to an unpaid tax bill, reports BBC Sport.The Shrimpers will owe £668,000 to HM Revenue and Customs by 11 March, with a further month “stacked up behind”.Sol Campbell’s siderts.

“I’ll tell you, he was – and I’m including Flint, too, since I coached at Flint Northern all those years – he’s the best athlete I ever seen. I mean, honestly,” Durett told the newspaper. “We’re talking about basketball, football and track together. He could have had a scholarship in all three sports. That’s how good. … I haven’t seen nobody that fast that could do it all. He was just a blessed athlete that could do it all.”

Angelique Kerber’s title defence ends but Serena Williams rallies to victory

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It is well over two decades since any woman other than Serena Williams and Venus Williams successfully defended the women’s title at Wimbledon. Angelique Kerber, in such style 12 months ago, will not be joining them after she was ousted 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 by the American Lauren Davis in the second round.

Davis, at 5ft 2in one of the smallest players on the Tour, only got into the draw as a lucky loser. A brilliant mover, she chased down everything and made the usually rock-solid Kerber miss, with 31 unforced errors from the German telling their own story.

“I was trying to find my game the whole match, actually,” said Kerber, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 after . “I was not really feeling good from the beginning. I don’t know why. The energy was not there. I tried. She played well. She was going for it. She took the match in her hand. I was too defensive in the important moments. Of course I’m disappointed. It’s not the way I would like to finish here or to play here. But you have sometimes days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it, try to forget this as soon as possible.”

Davis was ranked inside the top 30 just two years ago but injuries have dropped her down to her current mark of 95. Here, though, with Kerber off-colour, she took full advantage to take her place in the third round, where she will play Carla Suárez Navarro, the No 30 seed from Spain. Having lost in the final round of qualifying, it is almost like she’s playing with house money and she is enjoying the ride.

“It’s definitely been incredible,” she said. “I was super-disappointed, having lost last round of qualies. I found out less than two hours later that I got into [the] main [draw]. I was ecstatic about that. It’s honestly a dream being here. I played qualies last year, so I wasn’t able to come here. It feels amazing.”

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was there to watch in her second-round match against Kaja Juvan, an 18-year-old Slovenian who likes the philosophy of Socrates and Descartes. Her tennis wasn’t bad, either, as she took the opening set against a rusty-looking Williams but the American, trying to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slams, pulled her game together when she needed it. Her 2-6, 6-2,abao Cup semi-final is evenly poised after the first-leg finished 1-1 at King Power Stadium.”I thought we played well,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “In the first half, we were too slow both in attack and when we pressed the game. We were too passive.”They 6-4 victory sets up a third-round meeting with the 18th seed, Julia Görges of Germany. “It was definitely coming together as the match went on,” Williams said. “I’m just low on matches basically. I could feel it. But I’m getting there.”

She will get plenty of matches if she keeps going deep into the second week as she partners Andy Murray . While the media might like to claim credit for putting the pair together, W-1 defeat of Bournemouth.The Magpies made it successive wins in the Premier League wins thanks to goals from DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark who helped cancel out Harry Wilson’s opener.Bruce admitted there was still room for improvement, he said: “Ifilliams said she and Murray had discussed it a few days before and were excited to get on the court together. “It made sendy on a six-month deal after he was released by Wolves.The 21-year-old Scot began his career with Rangers before moving to Spain with Real Murcia.He joined Bury in 2014 before a three-year stint at Molineux that included loan spells with Oldham, Ayr se for me because I really could use some matches at this point,” she said. “It made sense for him. We both want to do well. We both love Wimbledon. Playing with a British icon like Andy is going to be really exciting. I’m looking forward to sharing the court with him and maybe I can learn a thing or two from him.”

Petra Kvitova, meanwhile, continues to defy expectations as she battles the arm injury that forced her to miss the French Open. The Czech, whose two grand slam titles came here in 2011 and 2014, beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, serving a whole game of aces early on and saving three set points before pulling away for victory. She will play Mandy Minella, of Poland, a surprise winner over American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open last month.

St Louis Blues silence Boston Bruins to move to brink of first Stanley Cup

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Jordan Binnington stopped 38 shots, and Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron scored for St Louis on Thursday night to give the Blues a 2-1 victory over the and a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues have won two straight since a and return to St Louis with a chance to clinch the first NHL championship in franchise history. Game 6 is Sunday night and the Blues are riding a red-hot goalie of late.

“Unbelievaaccording to reports.The former Gunners midfielder is currently with the general co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, who won the Copa America final against Peru on Sunday.He has been granted permission to speak with the club’s hierarchy and wilble. He won one for us,” defenseman Colton Parayko said of Binnington.

Tuukka Rask stopped 19 shots and Jake DeBrusk scored for Boston. The Bruins were lifted by the return of captain Zdeno Chara, who left dripping blood after taking a deflected puck off his face. He wore a full-face shield on his helmet, but was unable to provide more than an emotional boost.

Chara followed Rask onto the ice for the pregame skate, and he got a lengthy cheer for his introduction. The Bruins played a video of his highlights during an early whistle, and he went out of the way to deliver the game’s first hit, just 15 seconds in, on Brayden Schenn.

When things United striker Romelu Lukaku has been offered to Napoli and Juventus.The Belgium striker held talks last week with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and told he is no longer first-choice at Old Trafford.But a £75million dream move to Inter Milan with Antonio Co went bad later, the crowd tried to spur the team on with chants of “Chara!”

But the 42-year-old defenseman’s toughness could only carry so far.

O’Reilly scored in the opening minute of the second period, backhanding in a rebound for his third goal in his last five periodsb at Juventus ahead of their Champions League clash at Lyon.Lyon host Juve in the first-leg of their Champions League round 16 tie on Wednesday night.Sarri said, “I feel frankly even more responsibility in Italy to achieve every result. You all see. It was still 1-0 midway through the third when the referees disregarded a leg sweep by Tyler Bozak that knocked Noel Acciari out of the game.

Perron followed with a shot that banked off Rask’s pad and into the net. The fans responded with a vulgar chant and a shower of rally towels; the public address announcer eventually asked them to stop.

Boston did seem inspired – or at least desperate – and cut the deficit to one goal on a delayed penalty with about six and a half minutes left. Torey Krug took a high stick to the face at the blue line but he played on, straightened his helmet and dished the puck to DeBrusk for a one-timer past Binnington.

Boston pulled Rask with a little more than a minute left and earned several chances, but couldn’t get the puck past Binnington.

Liz Cambage breaks WNBA scoring record with 53-point outburst

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Liz Cambage scored a single-game record 53 points to lift the Dallas Wings to a 104-87 win over the New York Liberty on Tuesday.

The Australia international shot 17-for-22 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, and 15-for-16 from the free-throw line, adding 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The 6ft 8in center broke the record with a wide-open three-pointer with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.

“It’s pretty big,” Cambage said. “I’ve had big numbers in China, I’ve had big numbers in Australia, and I’ve heard a lot of people say I could never have big numbers here in the WNBA. So I guess this game is for y’all.”

The previous mark of 51 was set on 8 September 2013 by Riquna Williams, who did it for the Wings’ franchise when it was located in Tulsa.

Glory Johnson and Allisha Gray each added 13 points for Dallas, which won its first home game against New York since 2016.

Dallas coach Fred Williams was ejected from the game with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter. New York took its first lead of the game, 70-6ker Leandro Trossard has revealed Arsenal and VfL Wolfsburg are going head-to-head fUnited.The Cumbrian midfielder agreed terms with the Magpies shortly after celebrating his 17th birthday last month, having already trained with Steve Bruce’s first team squad and broken into the under-23s team this term.His grandad, Peter Hampton, por the youngster.Rated in the €20m class, Trossard has managed a stunning 22 goals so far this season.”There is still no agreement with any club. But I think that G9, on the next possession, but Dallas opened the fourther is working towards a return from groin surgery.Lampard said, “He’s getting closer, he had a really good week’s work. The reality is he’s not played for a very long time so it’s a mini pre-season. Now the injury hopefully is over, we need to get hi quarter on a 12-3 run and cruised from there.

The 26-year-old Cambage outscored the Liberty’s entire starting five by 10 points.

Kia Nurse scored 25 points, with four 3-pointers, for New York (7-15), which saw its two-game winning streak snapped. Tina Charles added 19 points.

Cambage, who helped lead Australia to an Olympic bronze medal at the London Games in 2012, returned to the Dallas franchise this year after sitting out the past four seasons. She was drafted by Tulsa with the second pick in 2011 behind Maya Moore.

Moore is third in the WNBA for most points in a game, scoring 48 in a double-overtime game in 2014. Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi had 47 points in a three-OT game in 2006.

Celtics crush Cavaliers in Game 1 of NBA Eastern Conference finals

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Jaylen Brown had 23 points and eight rebounds, Marcus Morris added 21 points and 10 boards, and the Boston Celtics scorched the 108-83 on Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Celtics ran off 17 consecutive points in the first quarter and never allowed the Cavaliers within single digits again. Boston led by 28 when Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue pulled LeBron James for good with 7:09 left. Kevin Love had 17 points and eight rebounds, and James finished with 15 points, nine assists and seven boards. The Cavaliers missed their first 14 three-point attempts of the game and shot just 32 percent in the first half.

By that time, Boston led 61-35 the biggest half-time playoff deficit in James’ career. With injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving on the bench in street clothes, the Celtics continued their stunning run this season with what may have been the most surprising turn of events yet. A year after dropping the first two games at home against Cleveland in a five-game East final, the Celtics pounced on James, and the favored Cavaliers were never really in it.

The Celtics took the floor to a hype video that began with the broadcast of Hayward’s injury in the first quarter of the first game, at Cleveland. A variety of commentators predicted the team’s demise, including Hall of Famer Charles Barkley saying: “Their season’s over.”

As more players went down to injury, the prophesies grew even gloomier. But there the Celtics were, back in the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavaliers for the second year in a row with Hayward, Irving, Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin all injured and coach Brad Stevens down to an eight-man rotation.

It was more than they needed.

Morris, starting in place ofncelotti has agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal that runs until the end of the 2023/24 season.He is attending today’s Premier League match against Arsenal at Goodison as a spectator prior to meeting the plgend Alan Shearer believes Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood is ready to be a regular starter.The 18 year-old struck in last night’s 4-1 win over the Toon last night.“The early signs that we’ve seen of Mason Greenwood have been exceptional.ayers and taking up his new role from Sunday. Aron Baynes, backed up his boast that he could cover James better than anyone except Kawhi Leonard and helped pester James into seven of Cleveland’s nine turnovers. (James had eight in the entire four-game, second-round sweep of the Raptors.)

Cleveland scored seven straight points early in the third and finished the quarter with six in a row to make it 78-64. But Boston made the first three baskets in the fourth and, after running off nine in a row to make it 96-68 with 7:0t to make an opening offer for Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff.The Mirror says United are ready to test Newcastle’s resolve to keep Longstaff by making a £30million bid for the midfielder.United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made Longstaf9 left, the Cavs conceded.

Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Boston.

NFL round-up: Patriots shock Steelers at the death while Eagles keep winning

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Tom Brady fed Rob Gronkowski repeatedly to set up Dion Lewis’ go-ahead eight-yard touchdown with 56 seconds remaining and Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone with five seconds left.

The Patriots (11-3) gained the inside track for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs by ending Pittsburgh’s eight-game winning streak. Brady threw for 298 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Gronkowski, fresh off a one-game suspension, finished with nine receptions for 168 yards, including four on the winning drive.

It briefly looked like it wouldn’t be enough.

The Steelers (11-3), who played most of the game without injured star wide receiver Antonio Brown, appeared to take the lead when Roethlisberger connected with tight end Jesse James for a 10-yard touchdown with 28 seconds to left. The play was overturned on review, with official Tony Corrente saying the ball did not “survive” the completion of the catch.

Roethlisberger hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a short gain, whp but stayed in bounds. With the clock running and no timeouts, rather than spike it to set up a short kick that would have sent the game to overtime, Roethlisberger tried to win it.

Instead, he lost it. His pass to Eli Rogers was batted into the air, and New England safety Duron Harmon came down with it. One kneel down later, the Patriots had their fifth straight victory over the Steelers.

Brown, the NFL’s leading receiver, went to a hospital having his left calf injury examined.

Jaguars 45, Texans 7

The Jacksonville Jaguars are returning to the playoffs for the first time in a decade thanks to a 45-7 drubbing of rival Houston on Sunday.

Once the NFL’s poster child for futility and a punchline for potential relocation, the Jaguars (10-4) are now one of the league’s top turnaround stories.

Blake Bortles threw three touchdowns passes, including two to a reserve receiver who slept in his car earlier this season. The Jaguars won for the seventh time in eight games to clinch a postseason berth for the first time since 2007.

Bortles finished with a season-high 326 yards and the best QB rating (143.8) of his career, including 186 yards and a touchdown to rookie Keelan Cole. Primary punt returner Jaydon Mickens, who stepped in for injured starter Marqise Lee in the first quarter, caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores against the Texans (4-10).

The Jaguars were an NFL-worst 22-74 over the previous six years, more a laughingstock than a postseason contender.

Rams 42, Seahawks 7

Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored four total touchdowns in just 2½ quarters, and the Rams moved to the cusp of their first division title since 2003.

The matchup to determine first place in the NFC West was completely one-sided. Los Angeles (10-4) was dominant, embarrassing Seattle into the worst loss during Pete Carroll’s eight seasons in charge.

Taking advantage of field position, the Rams scored on six of seven first-half drives, including a 21-point blitz in the second quarter capped by a 57-yard TD run by Gurley on third-and-20 with less than a minute remaining in the first half to take a 34-0 lead at the break.

Gurley had 144 yards rushing in the first half, twice scoring from the 1. He added a 14-yard TD reception midway through the third quarter for a 40-0 Rams lead and spent the rest of his day watching. The 152 yards rushing were the second best of his career.

The Rams don’t have the division wrapped up, but have a two-game lead with two weeks to play. A win against either Tennessee or San Francisco is enough for their first division title in 14 years.

49ers 25, Titans 23

Jimmy Garoppolo led one final scoring drive in the closing seconds to cap a fantastic first home start and Robbie Gould kicked a winning 45-yard field goal as time expired.

Garoppolo threw for a career-high 381 yards and a touchdown to give the 49ers (4-10) a three-game winning streak in a lost season. nham defender Jan Vertonghen.The 32 year-old former Ajax stopper’s contract with Spurs expires in June.Ten Hag told Ziggo Sport: “Jan is a player with a past at Ajax. He knows the philosophy of the club. Of course we are following his situation empAnd Tom Brady’s former backup showed he could do it at home as well as on the road — and against a playoff contender, no less — outdueling Marcus Mariota down the stretch as the teams traded field goals.

Gould kicked three of his six field goalrested in signing Youri Tielemans.The Red Devils could lose star midfielder Paul Pogba, after the World Cup winner declared his desire to start a “new challenge”.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would need to replace the 26-year-old, should his wish come true.Tis over the final nine minutes: 50, 48 and 45 yards, and has now gone 20 consecutive without a miss.

Gould put the Niners out front on a 48-yarder with 3:08 remaining. Mariota then drove the Titans (8-6) to a lead as Ryan Succop kicked a 50-yard field goal with 1:07 to play, then Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense got one last shot.

Vikings 34, Bengals 7

Eric Kendricks had an interception return for a touchdown, Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two scores, and the Vikings clinched the NFC North over the depleted and disinterested Bengals.

Running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 37 touches and 242 yards from scrimmage for the Vikings (11-3), who were given quite the reprieve on the schedule a week after their eight-game winning streak ended at Carolina in the last of three consecutive road trips. They were never challenged the Bengals (5-9), missing more than half of the starting defense to injuries, and met with a morning report by ESPN that head coach Marvin Lewis will not return next season .

The game went so smoothly that Teddy Bridgewater even made his grand entrance, his first live action in 16 months since a massive knee injury. Bridgewater’s first pass was intercepted, a high throw that bounced off McKinnon’s hands and into the arms of strong safety Shawn Williams deep in Vikings territory. That set up a short touchdown run by Giovani Bernard to keep the Bengals from being shut out for a second time this year.

Keenum completed 20 of 23 passes, including seven easy tosses to McKinnon for 114 yards in the first 100-yard receiving game for a Vikings running back since Onterrio Smith on Sept. 26, 2004, against Chicago.

Lewis who lost to a former assistant (Mike Zimmer) for the first time in eight matchups. Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for the Bengals from 2008-13.

Eagles 34, Giants 29

Nick Foles threw four touchdown passes in his first start replacing the injured Carson Wentz, and the Eagles secured a first-round playoff bye.

Foles hit 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards and no interceptions. The NFC East champion Eagles (12-2) made a late stand on first-and-goal in the final minute in edging the Giants (2-12) for the second time this season, spoiling a three-touchdown, season-high 434-yard passing game by Eli Manning.

Foles hit Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton and Nelson Agholor on scoring passes ranging from 3 to 13 yards in filling in for Wentz, who tore an ACL last week and was lost for the season after a brilliant year.

The Eagles also got two field goals from Jake Elliott and three blocked kicks from their special teams, foiling an extra point, a punt and field goal. The block on the punt set up a touchdown.

Manning finished 37 of 57 and hit Tavarres King on two touchdowns and Sterling Shepard on one. It was Manning’s ninth career 400-yard game and his first since last season.

Panthers 31, Packers 24

Cam Newton threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and the Panthers spoiled Aaron Rodgers’ return from a broken collarbone.

Damiere Byrd had two touchdown catches, and Christian McCaffrey had 136 yards from scrimmage, including a 7-yard touchdown reception as the Panthers (10-4) won their fourth straight home game.

Greg Olsen had his most productive game since returning from a broken foot, catching nine passes for 116 yards and a TD, and the Panthers kept pace with the first-place New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

Rodgers, making his first appearance since 15 October, threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times as the Packers’ playoff hopes took a critical blow.

Green Bay (7-7) had a chance to send the game into overtime for a third straight week. But cornerback James Bradberry stripped wide receiver Geronimo Allison of the ball with 1:48 remaining. Mike Adams recovered to finish off the Packers.

Saints 31, Jets 19

Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns and gained 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 50-yard TD run, and the Saints overcame three turnovers.

Michael Thomas became the second player with at least 90 receptions in his first two seasons. He caught nine passes for 93 yards, including a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown on a short slant for New Orleans (10-4), which retained its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Alvin Kamara turned a short catch into a 10-yard TD in his return from a concussion that knocked him out of the Saints’ loss at Atlanta a week earlier.

Bryce Petty made his first start at quarterback this season for the Jets (5-9), who were eliminated from playoff contention. Petty completed 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice — once on a tipped pass and once on a long, inconsequential throw as the game ended.

His 2-yard touchdown pass to rookie Elijah McGuire cut New Orleans’ lead to 24-19 with 1:51 left. But the Jets’ onside kick failed and Ingram broke loose for his long score while the Saints were trying to run down the clock.

Drew Brees completed 26 of 36 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns, but also was intercepted deep in his own territory to set up a Jets field goal at the end of the first half.

Ravens 27, Browns 10

Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass, ran for a score and beat Cleveland again as the Ravens stayed on track for the AFC playoffs.

With victories at home over Indianapolis and Cincinnati in its last two games, the Ravens will return to the postseason after a two-year absence.

The Browns are two losses from becoming the NFL’s second 0-16 team.

Flacco scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 33-yard TD pass to Benjamin Watson as the Ravens (8-6) took control with two touchdowns in the final 3:01 of the first half.

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams recovered a fumble and rolled in for a TD in third quarter to put the Ravens up 24-10.

The Browns (0-14) went 0-8 at home – 0-7 in Cleveland, 0-1 in London – for the second time and must win at either Chicago or Pittsburgh to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in the notorious 0-16 club. Last season, the Browns avoided infamy by winning their final home game and finishing 1-15.

Cleveland is 1-29 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, who is expected to be back despite his .033 winning percentage.

Bills 24, Dolphins 16

LeSean McCoy scored twice and surpassed 10,000 career yards rushing, while helping the Bills stay in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt.

Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 9-yard touchdown run and Shareece Wright and Jordan Poyer intercepted Miami’s Jay Cutler on consecutive drives to start the second half. Buffalo never trailed. Rookie Tre’Davious White sealed the win by intercepting Cutler with 28 seconds remaining — and one play after Miami punter Matt Haack recovered an onside kick at Miami’s 37.

The Bills have won three of four and improved to 8-6 to match the team’s best record through 14 games during Buffalo’s 17-year playoff drought — the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports. The Bills were 8-6 in both 2004 and 2014, but missed the playoffs with 9-7 finishes.

Buffalo also finished 6-2 at home to match its best finish at Orchard Park since 1999.

Buffalo must now hit the road to continue its playoff pursuit, closing the season at New England, then at Miami on Dec. 31.

The loss all but mathematically eliminated the Dolphins (6-8) from playoff contention.

Washington 20, Cardinals 15

Anthony Lanier sacked Blaine Gabbert and forced a fumble that Preston Smith recovered and Washington held on to beat the Cardinals in a comedy of errors for each team.

Smith also intercepted Gabbert and Lanier batted down three passes and had two sacks as they gave Washington (6-8) a glimpse of their potential as significant pieces of the defense for years to come.

Gabbert was 16 of 41 for 189 yards with the interception and a fumble he recovered himself in the fourth quarter. Arizona (6-8), which got all its points on field goals by Phil Dawson, went 0 for 6 in the red zone and 4 for 19 on third down as it was eliminated from playoff contention.

Washington’s Kirk Cousins was 18 of 26 for 196 yards with touchdown passes to Jamison Crowder and new running back Kapri Bi winger Yannick Bolasie has made a Christmas plea to Portuguese football authorities after being sent off for Sporting CP last week.Bolasie was sent off in victory over Portimonense, with the resulting suspension to rule him out of the clash with Porbbs. Washington were booed at times in the second half by fans in the announced crowd of 71,026.

The Joy of Six: seasons from hell

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1) Cleveland Browns (1995)

Ten years before he made his name as the inscrutable, hooded overlord of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick was handed his first chance as an NFL head coach by the , a historic franchise wounded by years of failure.

A giant in the sport’s formative years, the Browns had never made the Super Bowl, and a run of spectacular near-misses in the 1980s had shattered morale. After a 3-13 season in 1990, the owner, Art Modell, lured Belichick from the New York Giants, where he had just won the Super Bowl as defensive coach with a game plan so good that it’s now in the Hall of Fame.

Belichick set out to build a rugged team built for the hard winters on the shore of Lake Erie, where the team shared a rundown municipal stadium with the Cleveland Indians. Progress was slow – the Browns posted narrow losing records in his first three seasons – but the wily head coach engineered a run to the play-offs in 1994.

Despite frequent clashes with Modell over money, Belichick had the Browns primed for a Super Bowl run. Nearly 75,000 fans poured into the Cleveland Stadium to see the win over Kansas City, which sealed a 3-1 start. Off the field, Modell was watching revenues fall after the Indians’ departure. Rumblings began that the owner was about to take a hammer to the sturdy foundations Belichick had built.

On 6 November, Modell announced his intention to relocate the Browns to Baltimore. From dreaming of a Super Bowl, ever-faithful Browns fans were facing the death of their team. Cleveland lost nine of their next 10 games, falling apart on the field as fans turned to mutiny. The final home game of the season against Cincinnati became a riot. Spectators , raw grief giving way to rage.

Somewhere in the NFL’s corridors of power, the anguish poured out that day struck a nerve. The fans won their battle to keep the team in Cleveland (Modell’s Baltimore team became a new franchise), though they had to wait until 1999 for their return. The Browns avoided a death sentence but for the expansion side, the ghosts of what might have been are everywhere.

The relocated, rebranded Baltimore Ravens have won two Super Bowls. Belichick, fired by Modell over the phone, learned from the chaos in Cleveland to build a dynasty at New England. He slipped on a fifth Super Bowl ring this year; the Browns have won one of their last 24 games.

2) Doncaster Rovers (1997-98)

The free market rules in English football, which means pretty much anyone with a bit of spare cash can buy themselves a club. Some teams find their perfect match, a steady hand on the tiller that unleashes a club’s true potential. Doncaster got Ken Richardson. Under his ownership, Rovers lost their league status, their main stand to a suspicious fire, and their dignity.

Richardson had a curious hands-on/off approach, rarely investing in or even visiting the club’s run-down Belle Vue home but regularly interfering with team affairs. He would fax in team talks from the Isle of Man with missives like “show the bastards” scrawled on them. After a string of managers walked out, he installed a “general manager”, Mark Weaver, to do his bidding.

With Richardson’s cash cut off and home gates dwindling to below 1,000, Doncaster descended into little more than a Sunday league side. A followed the farcical final acts of the 1997-98 season, from angry supporters’ meetings to players training in the park, and getting trapped in the dressing room by a faulty door. On the pitch things were no better.

As the owner focused on selling off their ground, Doncaster’s motley crew of loanees and youth players were left to sink slowly, finishing the 46-game season with a record 34 defeats. They lost 7-1 to Cardiff City, and 8-0 at Leyton Orient. In the League Cup, Nottingham Forest beat them 10-1 on aggregate. Coach Danny Bergara tried swapping players’ numbers in a tactical move, outfoxing only himself.

Witzkid James Maddison, according to reports.The attacking midfielder shone in his debut Premier League season after moving from Norwich City last summer.At 22 years of age, Maddison’s potential has got the top clubs vying for his signature.The Independh Richardson absent, fans turned on Weaver, a yes-man installed above his station to do the owner’s bidding. At the final home game, fans staged a mock funeral for a club they expected to fold. Weaver turned up having vowed to stay away. The police advised him to leave for his own safety.

As the club fell apart, police were closing in on Richardson over his involvement in a fire in the summer of 1995 that had almost gutted the main stand at Belle Vue. He was eventually charged with offering a former soldier £10,000 to start the fire, part of a hare-brained scheme to get his hands on lucrative land. Detectives labelled him “the type that would trample a two-year-old to pick up a 2p piece”.

From the ashes, Doncaster at least found the owner they deserved. As Richardson was sent to jail, the local businessman John Ryan stepped in, and set about reviving the club. Ten years after their season in hell, with a new ground built and Belle Vue left behind, to seal promotion to the Championship.

3) Vince Spadea (2000)

Some tennis players are driven by rivalry, or a quest for sporting immortality. Vince Spadea’s motivation was more practical. “No one wants to travel the world to lose money,” he wrote in 2006. “Tennis players are paid to win.”

The year 2000 was a lean one for Spadea, a journeyman pro who had just enjoyed a breakthrough season. He had reached No19 in the world, and upset Andre Agassi on his way to the 1999 Australian Open quarter-finals. Spadea flew out to Melbourne seeking a repeat run to kick-start flagging form, but lost in the first round to the world No95, Adrian Voinea.

That early exit proved the catalyst for a historic run of defeats. Winter turned to spring, the hard courts gave way to clay, and Spadea lost, lost and lost again. By the time he reached Wimbledon, he had lost 21 straight matches. In the first round, he drew the British No2, Greg Rusedski. His parents decided to stay in Florida.

What happened next was predictable in its own way. Spadea overcame two lost tie-breaks and a two-hour rain delay to win the deciding set 9-7. The shame shifted to Rusedski and for the watching world, that’s where the story ended. “I can lose to anyone, but I can battle,” a jubilant Spadea told the crowd. “Because I got game.”

How much game? As it turned out, not much. Spadea lost his next match at Wimbledon, crashed out of the US Open and Olympics at the first hurdle, and lost in Tokyo to a player ranked outside the top 300. Dropping down to the Challenger circuit in autumn to regain his form, he lost his first match 6-1, 6-0.

Spadea ended the year with three wins and 28 losses at ATP Tour level, and a world ranking of No237. He would fight his way back up the rankings in tenacious style, but his losing run still hit him where it hurt – his pocket. Spadea has claimed that his season was so bad, he actually lost money on the tour. For him, that was the true price of failure.

4) Ferrari (1980)

Dominance in can be a fragile thing. With cars constantly tweaked and tuned up to stay ahead of the field, a wrong turn in the garage can wipe out years of progress. McLaren found that out in 2015, when a switch to Honda engines saw the historic team, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on board, reduced to a laughing stock.

In 1980 made a more subtle change, updating the 312T car that had won them four of the previous six constructors’ titles. The upgrade proved to be an unmitigated calamity in a tumultuous season blighted by safety concerns. The first two races, in Argentina and Brazil, saw drivers including Ferrari’s defending world champion, Jody Scheckter, threaten a boycott over track conditions.

1980 proved a turning point for the sport, with Bernie Ecclestone winning a power struggle with the F1 chief, Jean-Marie Balestre. It also proved a watershed for the Scuderia, who were outclassed in the early races as Williams and Brabham emerged as title contenders. Ferrari suffered reliability issues with their retooled engine, and did not pick up a point until Scheckter came fifth at Long Beach.

While his team-mate Gilles Villeneuve at least battled for the odd podium place in a chronically underpowered car, Scheckter took only two points all year, failed to even qualify for one race, and promptly retired at the end of the season. Scheckter’s sharp exit was, however, more than an indictment of his car.

He had once been the bad boy of F1, causing crashes and winding up rivals with his daredevil antics. Then, in 1973, he was first on the scene at team-mate François Cevert’s fatal crash at Watkins Glen. What he saw changed him profoundly and, after winning the world title ahead of Villeneuve in 1979, he saw no reason to put himself at risk any longer.

Villeneuve was not so fortunate. The Canadian was killed in a qualifying crash in Belgium two years later, perhaps the highest-profile victim of F1’s most unsafe era. Scheckter spoke at his funeral in a rare, fleeting return to the spotlight. The South African retired to Hampshire, where he now runs an organic farm.

Ferrari switched to a brand new car in 1981, and promptly returned to the podium places in the constructors’ championship. The previous season still left its maraller and Romelu Lukaku.The £40m signing from Eintracht Frankfurt has drawn comparisons with Manchester United striker Lukaku for his ability to score goals and hold up play.And Diop thinks his France U21 teammate, who scored 20 goals last season, wk – they did not produce another world champion driver until Michael Schumacher, some 20 years later.

5) Milan (1981-82)

Under the leadership of Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, Milan’s 1987-94 vintage won 14 trophies in seven seasons, blending Italian defensive nous with Dutch attacking flair to formidable effect. That golden age was forged in response to the club’s greatest embarrassment, only five years earlier.

For Serie A’s elite clubs, not winning the Scudetto is failure enough; they rarely have cause to consider the other end of the table. Internazionale have never been relegated, and Juventus’s only demotion . Milan were also relegated “off the field” once, in 1980, after the Totonero match-fixing scandal.

Milan bounced straight back and expected to breeze up the table, with a defence built around Franco Baresi and their new striker Joe Jordan banging in the goals. But Baresi missed four months with an injury, and in his absence Milan picked up eight points in 12 games. Jordan was the first player to score that season – in their eighth game.

Milan had returned to a league that was no longer afraid of them, and a run of one point from games against Catanzaro, Ascoli and Como appeared to confirm the unthinkable – relegation “on the field”. The youth coach Italo Galbiati replaced Gigi Radice and the club still had a chance of survival on the final day at Cesena.

After going 2-0 down early on, the team with 18 league goals all season found three in 15 minutes to grab victory. With Genoa behind at Napoli, Milan appeared to have avoided eternal shame, and their fans raced onto the pitch to celebrate. Then Genoa won a last-gasp corner, and scored.

Milan fans maintain that the Napoli goalkeeper, Luciano Castellini, intentionally threw the ball out to hand Genoa that corner. You can judge for yourself . Either way, this was not an experience the rossoneri ever planned on repeating. After securing an immediate return, Silvio Berlusconi bought the club, brought in Sacchi and signed Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten. The rest is history.

6) Derbyshire (1920)

County cricket’s meticulous record-keeping means no landmark season of any description will be forgotten. Which, for Derbyshire in particular, is a shame. After regaining first-class status in 1894, they failed to win a County Championship match in three separate seasons: 1897, 1901 and the historically abysmal 1920 campaign.

With county cricket returning to normality after the first world war, the captain, John Chapman, fielded 38 different players across 16 completed matches. It was an early example of over-rotation; Derbyshire lost them all – on six occasions, their opposition only had to bat once to get the job done.

This was a team caught between two eras; the previous captain, George Buckston, had retired, but came back to reorganise the side for the following season. Billy Bestwick, a 45-year-old seamer with a quick arm and quicker temper, featured in only one match. They were replaced by nent Wanyama is eyeing a move to AC Milan.While Club Brugge are in talks with Spurs over a fee for the Kenya international, any move could hinge on the Rossonero.Soccer Link says Wanyama favours a switch to Italy at Milan, where he is under consideratiwcomers who would go on to better things. The wicketkeeper Harry Elliott went on to earn England caps, as did the batsman Harry Storer – in football.

Guy Jackson, a 24-year-old batsman with a season-high score of 14, later became the county captain under the tutelage of Buckston. According to Wisden, Jackson “steadily raised the standard” within the county, laying the foundations for the 1936 season, when Elliott and Storer helped deliver Derbyshire’s only County Championship.

• , showcasing a selection of our sport features from the past seven days.

Stubbornness and lack of talent: the factors that doomed USA’s World Cup

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The shock is just now beginning to subside after the US men’s national team was eliminated from contention for the next summer’s World Cup in Russia. Every result that could have doomed them on Tuesday night came about, with combining with to knock Bruce Arena’s men out.

The list of what didn’t doom the United States’ qualifying campaign is lengthy – vastly greater resources and spending power relative to the rest of the Concacaf region, first and foremost – but before the autopsy begins in earnest, below are four things that consigned the US to desperate failure.

Coach Bruce Arena’s comment that the , and the insinuation that it is somehow more challenging than in other federations, inspired much guffawing.

Those scorning Arena had justification. (Good luck surviving a bad draw in Uefa or CAF, Bruce). There’s a case to be made that Concacaf has the most lenient road to the . In few other regions could Mexico have made it to Brazil three years ago with just two wins out of 10 qualifiernal to the end of the season.Aubameyang pulled out of talks with the club over a contract extension.He won the Premier League golden boot last season and is Arsenal’s top scorer again this term, with 13 goals in 20 Premier League games so far despites, for example, or with just three, as the US would have if El Tri and Costa Rica had done them a favor on Tuesday night.

What Arena was alluding to, however, were the logistical and practical concerns that are unique to Central America and the Caribbean. In few other regions, for example, do visitors have to to get to practice the day before the match. Stories of inhospitable kickoff times and late-night phone calls to team hotels .

What that all means is that taking care of business at home is paramount. Win your home games, and you’re in, no matter what happens on those pesky road trips.

The United States failed to obey that cardinal rule. in what had previously been the fortress of Mapfre Stadium – two days after the election of President Donald Trump, some of a certain political persuasion will remind you with the same dark comedy that inspired Omar Gonzalez’s own goal on Tuesday – and in New Jersey last month.

That Costa Rica loss, especially, coming when it did, put the US in a position in which they absolutely needed an away result. As we saw so vividly, that can come back to bite teams.

earlier this month, the USMNT are plagued by a puzzling dearth of talent between the ages of 23 and 27. The reasons behind that glaring development gap are myriad – that players those ages were born before Major League Soccer came into existence, that every nation ebbs and flows with its talent production – but its impact was clear enough this campaign.

The US leaned too heavily on veterans who had clearly lost a step, like poor Tim Howard, who was so lauded for his heroics against Belgium in Brazil but has lacked his former reflexes for a while now. It has also heaped far too much responsibility onto the shoulders of 19-year-old Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic has legitimate, game-changing quality. He’s already as gifted as just about any other American soccer player, ever, and it is a great shame for football fans everywhere was that he has been robbed of a turn on the World Cup stage. Pulisic was dominant last Friday night against Panama and . He’s also young, and sometimes inconsistent, like when he struggled to establish himself in that aforementioned Costa Rica match.

Such are the dangers of leaning too heavily on players either on the back end of their careers or still growing into their prime.

To write off this collapse as merely a function of a down talent cycle is to be far nager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to get his side back firing and be better than they were last term.”I understand that we’ve only picked two points up from three games but it feels like we should have a lot more,” the former defender said.”We might have totoo lenient on the powers that be. Even without difference-makers in that age group, this team had more than enough talent to qualify. MLS, the domestic league, is as strong as it’s ever been. Pulisic plays for Borussia Dortmund, one of the biggest club teams in the world.

Blame should also be pointed squarely at Arena, at former coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who oversaw the home loss to Mexico and the 4-0 hiding in Costa Rica, as well as at federation president Sunil Gulati, who hired both of them.

This has been a trend since the first time Arena was in charge.

His 2002 squad made the deepest run of any US team in the modern era, in the World Cup quarter-finals. At the end of his second cycle in 2006, though, the team flopped, going three-and-out in Germany. Bob Bradley also guided the US to the World Cup knockout rounds a year after a stirring run to the 2009 Confederations Cup final … and was let go midway through his second cycle after the team’s form fell off.

So Klinsmann’s trajectory should’ve been easily to chart when he inked a contract extension the year before his USforward Lucas Boye on a season-long loan from Italian side Torino.The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Greek club AEK Athens, playing in four Champions League group games.Boye has made 41 Serie A appearances for Torino and has also previously team reached the round of 16 in 2014. Instead, he stuck around long enough to dig the hole this group could not climb out of.

Any of the three fluky plays that sank the US would’ve been extraordinary on its own.

First, Gonzalez sliced an attempted clearance off the outside of his boot and into his own net, an own goal that would’ve been stylish even if he had been attempting to score. Then Honduras boinked their game-winner off the crossbar, off the back of the Mexican goalkeeper’s head and over the line. didn’t even make it that far – replays conclusively showed that Blas Perez’s shot next made it completely over the goalline – but it was credited anyway (fans hoping for a reprieve on that one may well be disappointed: it sounds like US Soccer won’t appeal. “As far as I know there is no recourse. Decisions of the referee are final,” spokesman .)

Taken together, it’s fine to acknowledge that this was a remarkable bit of ill fortune to strike in the same night.

It’s also fair to point out that the US has so much going for it relative to its peers that it never should have been so susceptible to bad luck so late in the campaign – and that this result will have repercussions for years to come.

Sergio García shines at Masters to raise hopes of end to major drought

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If the weight of experience lurking with intent did not pose such a threat, this Masters could be characterised as a weekend chase for major number one.

Charley Hoffman, , Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler head the event at half way on four under par. At differing ages, positions in world ranking and career victory levels, their combined major haul? Zero. Hoffman is the surprise package, Pieters the surly young pretender, García the routine bridesmaid and Fowler the form horse. Cases can be made for each of them but, crucially, for another 25 competitors, too.

The cavalry in pursuit includes Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. Ths always confident the Barcelona starlet would make it.Fati made his debut at 16 for Sunday’s 5-2 defeat of Real Betis.Luis Pérez Mena, the director of the Seville-based Escuela de FútbolPeloteros, coached Fati as a junior and told Efe: “I’ve been e leaders are not likely to enter relaxation mode.

García’s case, in his 71st consecutive major, is without question the most fascinating. The late, great Seve Ballesteros, who lit up Augusta National when claiming two Green Jackets and triggering a European stampede on the Masters, should be celebrating his 60th birthday on Sunday. If García, forever linked to Ballesteros not only on grounds of Spanish nationality but the level of mesmerising talent as demonstrated from his youth, were to prevail here, one of the great golf storylines of our time would have unfolded. does have a habit of throwing them up.

García returned a terrific run, of 21 opening tournament holes without dropping a shot. On Friday he birdied Augusta’s first three for the first time. At the 12th he conjured up a bunker shot from a plugged lie that he considered “hands down, the best of my career”. So far, so good.

One must, nonetheless, give strong consideration to an alternative outcome, the sort García has become ominously accustomed to. García has never made much secret of his indifference towards Augusta National as a venue despite, it must be stressed, always insisting he tries his best to win here. Essentially García believes the Augusta set-up means even good shots are occasionally not properly rewarded.

Matters seemed to be conspiring against him on Friday as a scoreboard error meant he was awarded a seven rather than the five he did produce at the 10th. “The most important thing is I knew where I stood,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t one under for the tournament, I knew I was three.

“Shane Lowry hit two balls to the left and we were looking for one, we couldn’t find it, we found the second one. We are all dressed light coloured pants and blue sweater, so I can see why they might have made the mistake. But it was fine.”

The number was duly amended, Garcia later signing for 69. It should have been better but for a lame birdie attempt from all of 4ft on the 18th.

Further bad news arrives for García from a key statistic. His third-round scoring average at the Masters is the worst of anyone in three decades, at close to 75. Perhaps if he can get through Saturday, when conditions are predicted to be far more favourable than days one and two, even García himself will take his Augusta challenge seriously. Part of the intrigue around the 37-year-old is that, for one so gifted, he never appears fully confident in his own ability.

“In a lot of these shots there’s such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very difficult two putt,” García explained. “You try to not think about those and try to be as positive as possible.

“Things are happening at the moment. I want to make sure that I keep riding that wave and go out there tomorrow and be positive, be like I’ve been the first two days.”

There is a parallel for García to dratheir clash with Villarreal.The Croatian has started just once this season — at Granada — and has now been replaced by Carles Aleña. “Every week I am asked about those not called up,” the coach said. “If Rakitic is not [in the squad], it’s becausew on. Danny Willett, last year’s Masters champion, had claimed the Dubai Desert Classic two months earlier. It was García who lifted that trophy in the Middle East a matter of weeks ago. García is not carrying the Spanish flag alone. Jon Rahm’s outstanding 2017 shows no sign of slowing down, the rookie signing for a 70 to sit at one under par.

McIlroy was the victim of dreadful misfortune on the closing hole. An apparently perfect approach shot from 140 yards r Milan are ready to slap in a bid for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.Off contract in June, the Dane has refused to consider new terms proposed by Spurs and is ready to leave the Londoners.PSG have been in contact, however Corriere dello Sporhit the pin, causing the ball to bound back down the fairway. McIlroy could understandably barely conceal his rage at making a bogey from there, meaning a 73 and plus one aggregate.

The Northern Irishman has not fully kicked into gear, a fact that should give him confidence given a position within touching distance of the lead with half of the Masters to play.

McIlroy has his mind set on a big Saturday move. “I’m a little disappointed with what happened at the last but these things happen and, if I can get off to a fast start tomorrow, a couple under through three, I’ll be right there,” he said.

“There are still 36 more holes left to go, a long way in this tournament. I know what can happen, good and bad, around this golf course.”

Willett was among those to encounter the negative, with a defence that ended on Friday at plus seven. A quadruple eight on the 1st fatally impacted on his cause.

A year ago Ian Woosnam insisted his Masters playing days were over on what marked the 25th anniversary of his victoryhere.

The Welshman, now 59, duly returned for 36 holes, his Friday 78 meaning a missed cut at 10 over par. “My wife made me come back,” Woosnam said. But will he – or she – do so again? “I haven’t ruled it out.” Wonderfully confusing.

Ben Ryan on life after Rio: ‘Base Fiji team in Cornwall – they would love it there’

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There are still some flat earthers out there who think rugby at the Olympics is no big deal. That sevens players are just failed XVs merchants, that there is nothing for the abbreviated game to teach its big brother. They should spend a lunchtime hearing about the assorted offers Ben Ryan has received since his fabulous Fiji squad won their nation’s in Rio.

This week Ryan is in the United States offering consultancy advice to one of their highest-profile basketball sides. If there is a mutual attraction there is the potential of a permanent arrangement. Every self-respecting sevens team in the world has enquired about his availability. Rumour has it that Japan were ready to shower him with yen, with even New Zealanders speculating as to whether he should take over from Sir Gordon Tietjens.

En route back home to Brentford he stopped briefly in the US and encountered complete strangers in Austin and New York who insisted on buying him drinks. They had watched the Olympics on TV and wanted to say thank you to the ginger guru with the glasses. In addition to being honour and three acres of land, the island nation is also introducing a special seven dollar bill with his face on it. There is continuing interest being shown in the US and China in turning the extraordinary Fijian rags-to-riches story into a film. A Bob Marley-inspired remix – – is already out there.

Not bad for a 45-year-old former Newbury director of rugby who was let go from the Rugby Football Union in 2013 after a difference of opinion with the then elite rugby director Rob Andrew. So, as we sit in the hotel bar directly adjoining the RFU offices at Twickenham, how many offers has he had from Premiership clubs to sprinkle a little bit of South Sea stardust on their northern hemisphere skillsets? The answer is one tentative approach from a lower-ranked side seeking an attack coach, subsequently withdrawn because of budgetary constraints. Amid the debate about developing home-grown English coaches, the risk-averse instincts of their employers remains a major hurdle.

There has in fairness been interest from Pro12 teams and the possibility of assistant coach roles with a couple of Super Rugby franchises but Ryan, who has long wanted to return to XVs coaching in some capacity, is clearly wavering. Helping basketball to instil a rugby-style culture would be lucrative and professionally stimulating. “I might know nothing about basketball but I’m looking at relationships; whether they’re overcomplicating things. To be successful you have to play the long game, have good standards and stick with them.”

If the British and Irish Lions need an innovative skills coach next summer with a track record of beating New Zealand, they should look no further. Assuming, that is, the multifaceted Ryan is still available. What a waste it would be if one of England’s brighter coaches were to be lost to another sport at the peak of his powers.

The oenitez has opened the door to future return to Newcastle United.The Spaniard still sees a future for himself in English football.He said: “I expect to do well with Dalian Yifang and after that to come back to the UK.”I don’t know when. But you are alnly consolation is he would love to coach at another Olympics: “I’d like to give XVs a crack and I think I’m a better XVs coach but going to an was amazing. To know you can go to future Olympics is definitely a pull because it’s just another level. Having had success there shows you how global the Olympics is and how small rugby is by comparison.”

Whatever he does next, Ryan can sense the entire sport changing. Sevens may not transform the world but, as with Twenty20 cricket and Test matches, it has the potential to reshape the rugby landscape. “In 2023, if the guardians of the game are doing the right thing, the ball will be in play longer. The sport will be more athletic and it’ll mean you need multipositional players.” It is Ryan’s firm belief, for example, that Tom Mitchell and Dan Bibby, the playmaking energisers of GB’s sevens side, could play in any Super Rugby midfield; most Premiership XVs coaches would declare them too small. “The clubs look at sevens here and think: ‘We’ll send someone if they’re not very good or struggling to make it.’ That’s not the case in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or Fiji. If it’s for inferior players why do people like Sonny Bill Williams struggle in sevens?”

There is much, much more. Ryan fears for the future of Fiji 15-a-side rugby if urgent measures are not taken by World Rugby to stem the exodus of players to foreign leagues and international squads. He believes there should be a Pacific Islands franchise in Super Rugby, as there now is for Argentina, to develop players, coaches and administrators alike. “Ask the players and the coaches if they would like a Pacific Islands franchise and they would say: ‘Yeah.’ But Super Rugby have been paying lip service to that idea for 20 years and it’s never happened. It needs World Rugby to say: ‘You’ve got to do this’ because that would be a game-changer. For the good of the game you don’t want Fiji getting worse at 15s and better at sevens. If Eddie Jones had 95% of his team not playing in England and he only had them once in a blue moon they wouldn’t be top of the tree. There’s no way.”

Alternatively, Ryan has an even more radical plan, albeit with some logistical hurdles. “If a Super Rugby franchise can’t happen, then transplanting a side into a domestic league in Europe – the Pro12 or the Premiership – would be the second option. Take a team of Fijian players, base them in Kent or Cornwall, and they would go. Look at somewhere like Cornwall. There isn’t a Premiership team and the islanders would love it there.”

So, reckons Ryan, would neutrals worldwide if rugby’s answer to the Harlem Globetrotters played together week in week out. “That’s how I explain it to Americans. It’s like the Harlem Globetors.PSG star Edinson Cavani has recently revealed that one of his dreams is to score a goal for Boca at La Bombonera like former Uruguayan striker Sergio Martinez.”Between River and Boca, I’m going for Boca,” Modric said on Un Metro Adelantado.”I prerotters but they’re in the NBA, winning games. It would be so exciting for the world game.”

Ryan has come a long way in every sense since his first meeting . If he is lured to basketball for a year or two and earns a truckload of dollars it could not happen to a nicer bloke. It would be even nicer to think that, one day, English rugby will wake up to the far-sighted coach right under its own nose.

Time to trust Slade as England No12?

England in Brighton, Eddie Jones’s seaside home from home. Short of relocating everyone back to Coogee Oval in Sydney’s eastern suburbs it is as close as you can get in the UK to the beachfront vibe he used to enjoy in his Randwick days. When it comes to identifying players at openside and inside-centre, however, recreating the grand old days of Wallaby plenty seems to be trickier. For whatever reason, Jones does not seem to be able to find many attack-minded English-reared 7s and 12s who fit his exacting criteria to play Test rugby in those positions. If Owen Farrell remains unavailable along with Manu Tuilagi, for example, will he trust Exeter’s Henry Slade at 12 or plump for the harder-running former league man Ben Te’o, regardless of the fact the latter has barely played this season following a concussion against Gloucester? A midfield of George Ford, Slade and either Jonathan Joseph or Elliot Daly would certainly cover plenty of creative bases, particularly with a powerful winger like Semesa Rokoduguni in the mix. Either way this is the autumn to take a closer look at England’s attacking options as opposed to playing safe.

All Blacks break the mould

People are talking about the All Blacks’ reserve XV being the second best te Napoli right back Elseid Hysaj.Spurs are reeling from the news that Juan Foyth will be out with an injury for several weeks.It leaves them short of defensive numbers, given the sale of Kieran Trippier earlier in the summer.Sky Sportssays a deal for am in the world. They may be right. What is beyond dispute is New Zealand, as the best sides do, are challenging the game’s supposed orthodoxies. When Argentina kicked off deep with 15 seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s 36-17 Test defeat in Buenos Aries, most teams would have caught the restart, taken the ball into contact and then booted it into Row Z to bring the first 40 minutes to a routine close.

Instead the All Blacks launched a thrilling attack from their own 22 that ended with a wonderful try for TJ Perenara. The sequence should be compulsory viewing for every age-group coach and player, not to mention a few Premiership ones.

Alex Rodriguez to be released by Yankees, ending controversial career

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Alex Rodriguez, one of the most talented and controversial players in the history of baseball, will be released on Friday by the effectively ending his playing career.

He will take up an advisory role with the team after his final game on Friday night.

The New York Yankees slugger announced the news at a press conference on Sunday morning, bringing an end to in which he recorded 696Paul Pogba about the public criticism from his agent Mino Raiola.Raiola recently held an inteBesiktas are pushing for Burnley defender Ben Gibson.Sky Sports says Burnley have rejected a loan offer – with a view to buy – from Besiktas for Gibson. The former Middlesbrough captain struggled to force his way into Sean Dyche’s team last season after suffering two separate hernia injuries. Gibson arrived from Boro for £14m last summer.rview with Italian publication La Repubblica, in which he stated he would not send any of his other clients to United.He also insisted United are “a club out home runs (), 2,084 RBIs and a batting average of .295. He was a 14-time All Star, a three-time American League MVP and led the AL in home runs on five occasions. He won his sole World Series with the Yankees in 2009.

“We all want to keep playing forever,” said a tearful Rodriguez on Sunday. “But it doesn’t work that way.”

Rodriguez also reflected on the game he is stepping away from. “This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team,” he said. “And today I’m saying goodbye.”

However, the 41-year-old has been in a slump this season, batting just .204 with nine home runs in 216 at-bats. The signs that Rodriguez’s career was coming to an end have been clear since the end of last month. He has started only once in 14 games since 22 July, and has homered just twice since 3 June. He is owed $21m this season and was due to make $21m in 2017, the final season of a $275m, 10-year deal with the Yankees. It is believed the Yankees are contractually obliged to pay Rodriguez his full salary for both 2016 and 2017.

Many considered Rodriguez’s deal, the biggest in baseball history when it was signed, an albatross round the neck of the Yankees who have been paying a huge salary to an ageing player.

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success. runs through his blood.

“He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a er Tuesday’s Champions League win.Saul Niguez’s fourth minute goal was enough to hand Atleti the advantage in the last-16 tie.Liverpool were left fuming when Diego Simeone’s men celebrated wildly at the final whistle.And on Wednesday Atletico were kewilling and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

But while Rodriguez’s talents are undeniable his career will always be associated with performance enhancing drugs, something that will always raise questions about the legitimacy of his remarkable achievements. He for his part in , in which MLB players were accused of involvement with performance enhancing drugs allegedly supplied by the now defunct South Florida anti-aging clinic.

“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse but if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”

Rodriguez returned last season, and enjoyed initial success before a late slump left him with a .250 average for the year with 33 home runs and 86 RBIs.

Ryder Cup 2016: US face pressure test as Darren Clarke backs young team

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For all that the involves two sides, it is difficult to deviate from the notion that the narrative of this, the 41st playing of the event, focuses mainly onone.

The desire of the United States to end a dismal run against Europe has taken them from one luminary, Tom Watson, to a taskforce and renaissance man in the form of . The US wildcard process has been modified, Tiger Woods has completed a journey of full circle from Ryder Cup indifference to the heart of the backroom team and an already fevered scenario has been ramped up even further. One is left to wonder what on earth the Americans will do if they have not wrestled back the Ryder Cup when time is called at Hazeltine next Sunday. Abandon all hope, perhaps.

US favouritism may be merited on the basis they have, on paper, the stronger team. They are also at home, but determination can become desperation pretty easily and to a team’s detriment. The involvement of Woods and Phil Mickelson may present Love with an issue over strong personalities above whom he should, in theory, exert authority. One glance at US preparations reveals a seriousness that has so often proved their undoing.

The Europeans have no need whatsoever to modify a team approach that has leaving Tottenham.Kicker says Vertonghen has not featured under Mauricio Pochettino this season despite making 22 appearances last term.Pochettino seems to have axed the Belgian from his first-team plans after several contract refusals from the playereturned the Ryder Cup three times in succession. In Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Sergio García they have a formidable backbone. Lee Westwood would cherish celebrating his 10th appearance with yet another win. For all the fresh-faced nature of the European contingent has been heavily played upon, there is a natural team evolution that need not necessarily be harmful. One of Darren Clarke’s rookies, Daity are moving for PSG striker Kylian Mbappe.El Pais says, however, PSG will attempt to block a huge offer from City for Mbappe by offering him a whopping £860,000-a-week new contract.However, it all depends on Barcelona buying back wantaway Neymar nny Willett, is .

“It’s unquestionable that it’s going to be a very, very big task ahead of us,” Clarke said. “Davis’s team is also shaping up very, very strongly. But with this team, those guys have earned their right to be on the team. They have embraced the challenge. They have got on there and they are world-class players in their own right.

“With adding Thomas Pieters to that list, there are six rookies there, but with the talent that they all possess, I’ve got no worries at all about the strength of that team going to America. I’m proud of that team. It’s a team that’s going to go there and do everything we possibly can to bring that trophy back home again.”

The fearsome length of Hazeltine – it can stretch to 7,600 yards – will only have been intensified by the deluge of rain that has battered that corner of Minnesota in recent days. Still, it would be curious if Love insisted upon the venue playing at its full distance. A slog fest appeals to nobody; birdie and eagle putts to win holes provide enduri form slump after defeat at home to Tottenham.The Hammers held their own for 36 minutes in Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of the visitors, only to concede twice before half-time to Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura.Harry Kane’s header seemingly putng Ryder Cup memories.

“If we don’t win, if Europe doesn’t win, Darren and I are going to have a lot of explaining to do,” said Love. “That’s part of it. But we’re used to the pressure. We’re used to wins and losses. One thing [the sport psychologist] Bob Rotella told me: if you’re going to base your happiness on winning and losing, golf is not a good sport to be in because you’re going to lose a lot. Tiger Woods has won more than anybody but he’s lost a lot of tournaments.

“But we enjoy the challenge and we love being on the stage and you’ve got to take the wins with the losses. I certainly hope that these 12 guys understand that this is their team. It’s not about me. I’m not playing. Tiger Woods is not playing.”

Mickelson is and, coincidentally, the USA’s horror shows have matched the left-hander’s involvement. Mickelson first featured in the Ryder Cup of 1995; in 10 appearances, the USA has won twice. Two years ago Mickelson’s provided an epic Gleneagles denouement. But here is the crunch; having been so outspoken and taken on increased prominence thereafter, Mickelson has a pressure of his own to deliver.

Since announcing his captain’s picks in late August, Clarke has been absent from the public eye. A perfectionist to the point of obsession on occasion – there is no chance whatsoever of a Medinah/Rory McIlroy-esque timing issue at Hazeltine – Clarke will leave nothing to chance. By his own admission, though, the challenge is a formidable one, not least because the next European captain who does not continue a run of glory will automatically be criticised.

There is logic behind bookmakers having a fancy for the US. There is considerably more in the sense that such an outcome would benefit the Ryder Cup as a whole. Nonetheless, recent history has served valuable lessons; they all intensify focus on Love and his players. Three intense days will tell whether or not Europe can quietly benefit from that.

Dallas Seavey wins fourth Iditarod dog race in competition marred by violence

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A new dynasty has been claimed in the world’s most high profile sled-dog race. Running alongside his sled to the finish in Nome, Dallas Seavey won his fourth . He’s onlyteran Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian fullback will become a free agent at the end of this month and is wanted by a number of teams in MLS.The Valencia.html”>Daily Mail says United are looking to give the 33-year-old a chance to stay in the Premier the seventh musher ever to win the race four times, and at just 29 years old, by far the youngest.

“It was a tough one. This one was a little bit harder than last time,” Seavey said from beneath the Burled Arch at the trail’s end shortly after his victory at 2.20am.

It’s the fastest time in the race’s history: eight days, 11 hours, 20 minutes and 16 seconds. When Seavey’s grandfather, Dan Seavey, ran the original race in 1973, the winner took just over 20 days reaching the finish.

“There’s really a changing of the guard happening,” said four-time winner Jeff King during his mandatory eight-hour rest in White Mountain, a community of 209 and the penultimate checkpoint before Nome.

King and other mushers drank Tang and re-heated breakfast burritos in a small office in between quick naps and checking in on their dogs, frequently consulting leaderboards and their wristwatches. Half a dozen gathered around a television to watch a live broadcast of the finish, few saying very Ndombele has explained why he chose to move to the Champions League finalists.Ndombele has left Lyon for Spurs in a deal worth up to €70m.He told L’Equipe: “When we look at it, I think it’s a very good choice. What guided me is the Premier Leaguey much as yet another Seavey title was claimed. The only year in the last five that Dallas didn’t win was 2013, when the champion was his father, Mitch.

“The next generation is no longer kids,” King said, referring to a crop of young mushers that are filling out the race’s top ranks. Beating King into White Mountain were Wade Marrs, Pete Kaiser, and Joar Leifseth Ulsom – all of them under 30.

Many of the sport’s most accomplished champions had a rough time along this year’s trail. Four-time winner Lance Mackey scratched mid-way through the race, citing concerns for his personal health. Martin Buser, another four-time victor, injured his leg so badly heading in to Unalakleet that he struggled to feed and water his dogs during a rest. And King himself lost a dog named Nash when an during a run along the Yukon River early Saturday morning.

The death, along with injuries to another three dogs, put him at a strategic loss for the second half of the race.

“The other two I dropped are two of my best leaders,” King said, emotion creeping into his voice. “They were really a significant loss to the leadership of the team.”

State Troopers arrested 26-year-old Arnold Demoski of Nulato shortly after he contacted local law-enforcement officer the morning of the incident to confess.

“I don’t know how I can make it right,” Demoski said during an interview with a local television station before his arrest.

Though the incident was first reported as an intentional attack, Demoski said he’d been drinking heavily and didn’t remember striking King, or musher Aliy Zirkle, who was further along the trail, and told race officials what happened upon reaching Nulato. Accoridng to Zirkle’s report to law enforcement, the snowmachiner made multiple passes at her team before pointing the vehicle at her, revving the engine, then driving off.

It was a dark spot on a race that was otherwise marked by its cooperative weather, fast trail conditions and an exceptionally high level of competitiveness among the top 30 teams.

For much of the trail, Dallas Seavey pushing at an aggressive clip to keep up with Brent Sass, a musher from the remote Interior community of Eureka who is a top performer and past winner of the Yukon Quest, Alaska’s other prominent thousand-mile sled-dog race between Fairbanks and Canada.

Sass arrived into White Mountain about two hours behind Seavey. But as he got ready to leave for the last leg of the trail, his team quit on him.

“They don’t want to run anymore,” Sass said during a brief interview after he’d walked his team back to the checkpoint, spread out bundles of straw, and removed their racing booties.

“It was my responsibility to control that. And obviously I didn’t,” Sass said, petting his team. “Sorry guys.”

The protest along the banks of the Fish River, Sass believed, came from pushing the dogs too hard on the last two legs of his run, when he was trying to maintain an edge over Seavey. The tempo had taken its toll.

“I pushed ‘em too hard. Bottom line,” Sass said. “I feel horrible about it. It’s totally my fault.”

As Sass rested both himself and hre targeting midfielder Isaac Hayden from Newcastle United.The Hammers are persisting with a move for Andre Gomes from Barcelona, but their bids have been rebuffed so far.According to the Evening Standard, they see Hayden as an alternative if they cais team, Aliy Zirkle, the fourth musher into the White Mountain checkpoint, left ahead of him. Ultimately she took third place in the race – the fourth time she’s been locked out of a victory by either Dallas or Mitch Seavey.

Mushers will continue to race until the conclusion of festivities on Sunday during the Red Lantern Banquet in Nome.

For the thrilling Dallas Stars, it’s all-out offense. But is their strategy doomed?

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Prior to their New York road trip, the were the NHLside club have been monitoring the 17-year-old, per The Sun.While Hope has not played for his club’s senior side, he was on the bench for a recent EFL Cup tie.The young left-back is also a target for Middlesbrough.It remains to be seen whether Everto leaders, a team who had spent the first months of the season overpowering teams with their dominant offense. After three straight losses, adding up to five in their last seven, they are left wondering whether their offense-heavy strategy is the right formula for winning a Stanley Cup.

Head coach Lindy Ruff told the media his team’s performance in the 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers was “embarrassing”, something he’d clearly expressed during the game by benching his top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp for the last 12 minutes.

Benn, the captain, didn’t exactly mince words either.

“We played stupid hockey and it’s not good enough. It’s pretty plain and simple,” he said.”

The Stars have scored 146 goals this year, 22 more than the Washington Capitals. That’s the same as the difference between the Capitals and the league’s 17th-ranked offense, the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas is on track for over 280 goals this year, which would be the most by an team since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012-13. Benn and Seguin are second and third in the league in points, trailing only Patrick Kane.

But the Stanley Cup playoffs are typically not kind to high-octane offenses. Not since the Pittsburgh Penguins powerhouse of 1991-92 has the No 1 offense won the Stanley Cup. That’s not to say that recent winners didn’t have offensive prowess. Reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks had both Jonathan Toews and the aforementioned Kane, but they also had the No 1 defense in the NHL, which shut down Tampa Bay Lightning in game six. In fact, the past six winners were all in the top five in goals against, with three taking the top spot.

That’s where the Stars have their work cut out. Although they’ve surged to 16th in the league in goals against, a big jump from last year’s 29th, Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers showed what awaits them if their top players go cold and their defense and goaltending can’t stop difference-makers like Rick Nash and Derek Stepan.

After a 6-5 loss to the Islanders on Sunday, Ruff was asked if he was worried if his defense was trending downwards. He sidestepped the question and blamed bad penalties that let the Islanders score two power play goals. After the Rangers game, he singled out his top scorers.

“We need those guys,” Ruff said, referring to Seguin and Benn. “They’re our best players. Most nights they’re the ones who can push you through, and they’re going through a tough spell.”

Last year, Dallas was the only team with a top 10 offense to miss the playoffs. To fix their defensive woes, they brought in Antti Niemi to be their starting goaltender. Although he’s been an improvement over last year’s starter and current back-up Kari Lehtonen, the game against the Rangers dropped Niemi’s save percentage to a pedestrian .913, good for only 25th among all goaltenders.

Still, Ruff didn’t want to put the blame solely on Niemi, who didn’t get much help from his defensemen Tuesday night.

“I thought he made some great saves to let us hang around. We knocked one in, we deflected one in,” he said referring to some of the bizarre goals the team let in. “I think if you look at the breakaway saves and the tough saves he made, he gave us a chance when the game was still 2-1, 3-1.”

The Stars have been a breath of fresh air in a season where NHL administrators have lamented the decrease in scoring, and publicly floated proposals to increase the size of the nets or decrease the size of goaltender equipment. The league average continues to creep towards five goals per game, meanwhile the average Stars’ game has six goals per game. You’re far more likely to see them score six goals, which they’ve done four rs.The locker room were shocked last week over claims the board hired an online PR company to disparage both current and former players critical of the current regime.Mundo Deportivo says Bartomeu met with the squad’s four leaders, Lionel Messi, Sergtimes, than being shut out, which only happened once against St Louis Blues.

But in the playoffs, where series often come down to low-scoring overtime games, opponents will be looking to shut down Dallas’ skilled players. Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ goalie who stopped 21 out of 23 shots against the Stars, explained it best.

“I think against a team like Dallas, the best scoring team in the league, you have to be smart with the puck. Your awareness has to be really high especially in your own end,” he said. “I think we played with poise and awareness. They have some really high-skilled players and if you let them play it’s going to be a tough game.”

Following a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals passed the Stars for the best regular season record in the NHL. Under head coach Barry Trotz, the team has remodeled itself into an excellent defensive team.

A few seasons ago, under Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals were the poster child for trying to win the Cup by playing great offensive hockey. In 2010, they won the President’s Trophy for the best regular season record by scoring an incredible 318 goals, only to be upset in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens and their stellar goaltending. The Capitals let in 233 goals that year. This year, they have conceded the fewest goals, 85, at the midway point of the season.

But the Stars’ style of play has still propelled them to first place in the Central division by eight points, which is a more than welcome change for a team that has only made the playoffs once in seven years. Attendance at the American Airlines Center is up by almost 1,000 and despite the recent struggles, this is still their best start since the Stanley Cup-winning season of 1998-1999.

A Sunday.Sigurdsson, who was one of a number of players to join up with the Everton squad this week, struck the bar and the post after coming on as a half-time substitute at the Stade Saint-Marc in Le Chable.”I think we played alright, a lot of the bofter three road games in four nights, Ruff is hoping the team can regain momentum back in Dallas with a few division games. But he’s worried there’s not enough time to “regroup”, as he put it.

“When you get out of this, you usually need a few days to let your team rest and come out of it, but we don’t have that luxury,” he said.